The Truth ( A Maithili Poem by Baidyanath Mishra ‘Yatri’/ Nagarjun)

Translation- Rajesh K. Jha

Shiva- M F Hussain
Shiva- M.F.Husain

The world is unreal,
unreal is the earth, unreal the sky.
This soil is unreal, so is water.
Me, you, he, she, whosoever one may be,
all are unreal, phantoms they are.
What is real – the nothingness.
What is true – the Brahma.
What  exists – the bliss incarnate
-the one undivided
-the soul
-the one that is hidden from the world
-that which is  immanent like salt in sea water.
The real is invisible,
the real is above qualities,
the one that can’t be spoken of.

Oh how great it could have been,
had these words,
heard from  father, grandpa and grandma
were true.
I too, would have repeated-
the world is unreal,
unreal is earth, unreal the sky.

Don’t ask me the ways of the world today,
the Brahma is of no use,
useless are your clan and Gotra,
the sacred  tuft, sandal mark and dot on the forehead,
useless they are,  useless are the old tropes.

All this is false,
the dragnet of falsehood they are.
False is Brahma, so are the Vishnu and the Dikpalas.
The Vedas are false, so are the Upanishads,
the Shruti is false, so is Smriti,
false are the Puranas and the sacred books,
fasting and penance are false,
false is the history of the kings and the rulers.

Then, the truth?
This soil is true,
The water is true,
This world is true,
This earth is true, the sky is also true,
Me, you, he, this are the real truth,
true is this life, its struggles are true,
hope is true and true is the toil,
true is the grind to create,
true is this home,
this body is true,
true is the reasoning,
the patience is true, so is conscience,
true is the invisible inner strength,
this hand is true, so is the arm,
that helps me earn two dimes a day.
The four-armed deity does not help me,
nor do the Vedas and the sacred books.
Leaving all my work aside,
why should I tire just for nothing?
Why should I fear the punishment by the Yama?
I do no wrong, commit no vice.
The devil gives me two rupees,
after I have done work worth ten.

Even the God takes his side,
the side of the rich and of the powerful,
who hold Ram and Krishna by their sacred tuft,
Hanuman too quivers before the liar,
the all powerful and the strong Kaal Bhairava,
bribed by the evil,
pats the back of the debauched.

Man is real,
real are the people,
son-daughter, kith and kin, field and the crop are real,
nothing can be more real than,
the corn and the millet, paddy and the hay-stack,
fish and honey, fruit and tuber, betel-leaf and the foxnut.

The language of our speech is the truth,
other languages are the drums that beat at a distance.
Sons and daughter are born to the mother and father,
grandson and granddaughter are born thereafter,
so grows the lineage and the clan,
and that is real and true.

Things renew every day with the effort of all,
the struggle to retain what exists
and then the change,
and creation again,
status quo is back,
resistance and struggle again,
this is how the change continues, society moves,
just as in the old and dying stack of bamboo plants,
a new sapling is born,
grows into a plant, thick and strong,
dense stock of bamboo-plants comes again, dry and dying.

True is the cycle of decay and regeneration,
true is the world.
Our ancestors fell into the endless abyss of an ocean,
chanting- not just this, not just this,
do we need to fall into the same abyss again?

Riven with the spiritual angst,
tortured by the mysteries of nature,
the ancient man saw the ant-hill,
or the mango and the banyan tree,
started praying before them,
the hymns were made.
Perhaps that was the truth in times gone by,
but do we need to pray before the ant-hill today,
offer obeisance to the mango and the banana tree,
will it satisfy any of our needs,
will it quench the pangs of hunger in my belly,
give us the divine blessing?
The  earthen pot with horse carriage drawn on it,
decorated with the rice paste,
offering of the milk is a waste,
of no use indeed!

Even the Gods have accepted defeat
before the skill of the modern man,
the sword of goddess Chamunda has lost its sheen,
before the atom bomb made by the man,
those days had a Pushpak,
today the sky is full of aeroplanes flying,
soaring with pride, day in and day out.
The world is clear before our eyes,
like gooseberry in the palm.
If not today, tomorrow for sure,
the Himalaya will also surrender before the man,
nothing will remain unknowable and invincible,
for the people free and thinking.

Hail the toiling humanity dotting the globe,
salute the human race,
shedding its sweat, day and night,
to turn the hell into heavenly delight,
you break the teeth of the devil,
from  one end to other,
hail the unity of the people,
driven by the common goal!

My heart is filled only with devotion to you, the people,
my head does not bow to any other deity,
If not today, tomorrow for  sure,
you will destroy the gang of the evil.
Go make the new Veda,
with the life of peasant and the worker,
take in the best learning of ancient,
invest the science of your age for the good of people,
none will remain a pauper,
all will prosper, all will work,
all will enjoy, all will become wise and learned.
If I somehow couldn’t enjoy
the divine happiness of this world and the heaven,
the generation ahead will surely do.
Today I praise the people with all the force I command,
Hail the people God!

May the voice of the poet inspire pride,
even in the heart of the somnolent,
may the poet’s voice mingle with the people victorious,
and be as proud as them.
Human evolution is the truth
True is the gradual movement of the intellect,
real is this history of the struggling people,
real is the earth, real the sky,
human kind itself is the final truth.

Param Satya- Baidyanath Mishra ‘Yatri’ (Nagarjun)- Original Maithili Text


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